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Laker Vujacic’s Meaningless Shot Costs Bettors $100 million?

Sasha Vujacic, Los Angeles Lakers
Sasha Vujacic, Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers were up 97-92 as the clock was winding down in last night’s Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.

The Lakers were guaranteed a victory and thus a spot in their first finals in four years.

But as the final seconds ticked off, Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic passed the ball to back-up guard Sasha Vujacic.

Instead of dribbling out, Vujacic squared up and threw up a shot from outside the arc towards the hoop.

The shot went in as time expired. The Lakers had prevailed by eight points, instead of five.

I don’t bet, but I cover the industry. So I started to look into this as soon as I got a note at 2:31 am from reader Erik Schuman.

While Vujacic’s taking of the shot was a joke in the Lakers locker room, it turns out it was hardly a laughing matter for people that had bet on the Spurs to cover the spread. The line opened with the Lakers being eight-point favorites, but quickly moved to 7.5 points, meaning that Vujacic’s heave either cost people money (who bet on the Spurs) or turned their winning bet into a push.

So I called R.J. Bell of Pregame.comwho is really good at number crunching, to ask him how much Vujacic cost those that took the Spurs. Bell said that, from looking at betting data he had access to, that 66 percent of people took the Spurs and the 7.5 points or 8 points.

Bell estimates that the game did about $3 million in bets in Las Vegas, but he estimates that worldwide, the game did about $300 million in action. Bell said that, when considering the line move, that shot swung at least $100 million in bets.

That’s an interesting number since years ago I did the story on the infamous Chris Duhon shot which was estimated to swing as much as $100 million in bets.

While those that bet on the Spurs might direct their anger towards Vujacic, those that bet on the Lakers could have felt the same about Tony Parker. When the game was out of reach, Parker--right before Vujacic’s shot--hit a three-pointer with 10 seconds to go.

The shot by Vujacic will get more attention because Parker’s shot was based on instinct; when you are down, you shoot. Vujacic’s shot? Unclassy and costly.

Update: One sports book director at a book in Las Vegas said this: We opened at Lakers -8 and never got off the number, so all the money on the game was refunded.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com